Monday, January 7, 2013

Ending 2012 and moving along into 2013 the MLC (Monday Lunch Club) decided to continue on a Memphis vintage theme so  the call was made to go to TJ Mulligans. You can’t really go wrong at any Mulligans so we decided to keep it downtown. The call went out to meet at the Pinch district location. TJ Mulligans has been in town with open doors since 1989 and now has 4 locations.

 I remember a few words of wisdom a few years back from the owner. He stated when he was opening the first Mulligans that the  kitchen would stay open for the late night crowd. In theory his idea was, if the kitchen is open, then people will come, people will stay  and people will  eat. I remember him talking about how many nights this commitment was painful, but in the long run, it all paid off.  People really will eat if the kitchen is open. Again, this place has survived the test of time especially after the Pyramid shut it’s door. Things are looking up for the Pinch with the commitment of Pro Bass taking over the Pyramid. The MLC  had a  larger than normal turnout for this Mulligans date,   but it didn’t prevent the  wait staff from handling  all of our wishes very efficiently.

 I was particularly honored that my daughter was in town and was able to attend this crazy MLC crowd. After all, before running off to Grad school she was known to occasionally attend the original lunch crowd during the days of the Heavenly Hoagie. 
  Kristy, my daughter, is in her second year of Grad school at The University of Southern Mississippi. She is on her way to getting her PhD in Clinical Psychology,  which is really great  for the MLC. We have already asked for a group  discount, friends and family  plan. If she ever decided to do some charity work later on in life, I’m sure our crowd could challenge the best. Well they say, when the kids leave to go off to school they usually return with extra company. Kristy was no exception to this myth, only she brought home a genuinely good guy. For now the MLC has decided to call him the Dolphin Whisperer.  Dolphin Whisper is a smart guy that can and will hold a good conversation at any level with any crowd. A nice quality not always present in today’s world. Dolphin Whisperer’s future is taking him to the Florida Keys to study Dolphin habits involving Experimental Physiology. We should just leave it at that because I know I will lose everyone if I get into details. It’s hard to feel sorry for Dolphin Whisperer since his daily uniform will consist of flip flops and board shorts not to mention the poor guy’s only accessories might be a drink cozy, dive mask and a bright colored beach towel. Keep us up to date Dolphin Whisperer, we will be looking forward to hearing from you. Good luck in the Keys and don’t fight the urge  to become a Miami Dolphins fan.

The next Monday we ended up at the Crazy Noodle on Madison. For me this was the first time out in daylight after a weekend in bed fighting the crazy funk that’s been going around town. I went to the doctor but unfortunately there was not much to do for these annoying   elements that were clogging my head. The Crazy Noddle sounded good since most of us have never been there. I don’t know how the lunch call was made but I’m sure  glad that someone prescribed this head therapy.   I ordered something that sounded good and that a gentleman at a nearby table was eating.  It’s always fun searching for exciting flavors.  You can usually count on getting some good advice from regular customers and if you happen to glance and see a dish that looks appetizing, don’t hesitate to ask your server, after all, a visual is hard to beat.  We ordered a Vege-jean for starters.   I gotta tell ya it was really fresh and tasty. The “I can’t remember the name" soup I had was far better than going to the doctor’s office and getting some medicine. After a bowl of this nice and spicy noddle soup,  I felt  a million bucks better.
 I was a little reserved in the beginning but the results of the flavor combinations were deep and soulful.  Again I was honored to have my daughter with us at MLC.  She really makes life a little simpler and I have to be one of the luckiest dads on the planet. The conversations we have today are usually always fun and she has a great sense of humor. Her comedian ways mixed with her approachability    are coming  out and it won’t be long before she will hold an entire room’s attention. Or has that already happened and I’m slow to recognize? 

 We also got the great news that Valorie will be working as a nurse in the very near future at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. This is where she wanted to work since she has been in nursing school so bravo to her. Le Bonheur is adding a valuable asset and I know she will compliment their staff. Congratulations Valorie!

After Lunch Kristy and I started some running around town. We decided that we were going to put Aunt T’s meatballs to good use and have Monday night meatball subs while we watch the BCS bowl game. These meatballs  that my sister makes are  legendary. They are not complicated and they are moist, soft and full of passion that shows in every bite. Good bread usually calls for La Baguette Bakery on  Poplar, so Kristy and I  headed that way.  As we passed   Wiles-Smith Drug Store on Union Ave we had to slam on the brakes and dive into the place for a long overdue, awesome milkshake. A nice gentleman by the name of Oscar made us one of the best chocolate shakes I have ever had. Kristy and I were ooooing and aaaaing as we slurped up the fantastic shakes. We sat at the counter and had a wonderful conversation with Oscar. It was largely concentrated on the fact that a mere mention of milkshakes can put a smile on just about anybody.  You have to get there before 3 pm, so it makes it even more sought after since there is a  time  constraint to get these wonderful, masterful shakes. Well this  is how a Monday afternoon should be, Good lunch with great friends, an awesome shake with a cool daughter, and a trip to the bakery for great  bread, the best  meatballs in the world from my sister Aunt Tee, HD-TV with a BSC Bowl game…….. Priceless....

TJ Mulligans
362 North Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-1453

The Crazy Noodle
2015 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
Phone:(901) 272-0928

Wiles-Smith Drug Store
1635 Union Ave
Memphis, TN 38104

Monday, December 10, 2012

If You're Lucky Enough

From the Celtic Crossing Web site
“…. may you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead”. You can find this quote on the Celtic Crossing web site. . To add to that, one could say if you make it to heaven after an Irish meal, you’re likely to be pleasantly full. It was a rather chilly morning when the lunch bell text was sent out. Celtic Crossing was the spot for the day. I really wish there was some way I could communicate how spontaneous these lunch calls are. We usually never plan a lunch spot. It’s always on the fly. AJ and Robo are going to start a Tweet (Twitter - @MLC_Memphis) for the spot if anyone ever wants to know where we are at, or how quick it is. Heck we are also on Instagram - Monday_Lunchclub, and Facebook- The Monday Lunch Club thanks to the PR of AJ and Robo. Good work from these guys.
I just got out of a nasty drilling session at the dentist, so Celtic was perfect. We all arrived about the same time and the ordering of food festivities began. While waiting for lunch we usually have conversations about all sorts of topics which really make the Monday Lunch Club an event rather than just a lunch. We have several pet owners associated with MLC, so the topic was about a few abnormalities that occurred at dog parks around town over the past few weeks. We started sharing fun dog park stories and general “off leash” etiquette rules. Most dog parks will list a variety of rules, however, beyond the listed; common sense should be the prevailing rule. 1) If you throw a bright colored ball around several dogs, you have to expect that more than one dog will go after the ball. This is the funniest thing to watch. The faces of the dog owners that actually are in shock about the fact that another dog went after their ball is priceless. 2) If you walk into a dog park with a mammoth juicy steak sandwich, you just might get few dogs following you. Again the faces of the dog owners usually will tell the story but the body language of the adults trying to hide what dogs can smell is hilarious. 3) If you bring your kids, not small kids they might be better off at home, be aware that other dogs may be “off leash” and might actually lick your kids. This is not a bad thing unless you are wearing really tight panties, then you’re likely to take that frustration out on someone’s dog. 4) Know your dog well enough to trust his/hers behavior and if the dog is likely to be aggressive or not. 4) This is a big one at almost any park and that is picking up after your dog. I could go on forever, but common sense should always prevail. If you need some sense help, just, ask someone that has it.
I don’t know what it is about Mondays, we’re always very fortunate to have a friendly staff. The Celtic was no exception to this normality we’ve been experiencing. I usually like to order the theme or the special of the particular establishment we are eating at, but today I went in a different direction. I ordered the Split Pea soup which was incredibly hearty, warm, and tasty. These are the characteristics that officially make this soup comforting. Along with the soup I ordered the pimento cheese sandwich with bacon. Bacon absolutely makes the world a happier place and combining it with pimento cheese is nothing less than a big smile. The textures of the cheese, bacon and toasted bread made this a truly tasty sandwich. Crunchy, soft cheese, tart, bacon pile of yum-tastic is the way I’ll describe it. I believe pimento cheese is making a comeback, and I predict a pimento showdown sometime in the future.

The other end of the table ordered Fish n’ Chips which looked very appetizing. Celtic serves really large strips of fish, deep fried with an attractive golden brown batter that’s nice and lite. The fish is very tender and juicy and doesn't even come close to being dry or boring. This is served with decent pile of fries (chips). You know it’s all good when you see the bottle of malt vinegar on the table. Malt vinegar is one of those simple ingredients that just can’t be replaced. Sparks was sitting right across from me and he ordered the Bangers n’ mash. I swear I wanted to ask for a taste from his plate, but I was wrestling all I could manage on my own. The Corned beef also looked delicious. Celtic Crossing did not skimp the portions, and the stick to your bones food on the menu is very comforting. This is most definitely a fun pub with good Irish classics. At night or during one those wild soccer games, Celtic Crossing is a very happening place.

 Irish toast
There are good ships, 
and there are wood ships, 
the ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships, are friendships, and may they always be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fee fi PHO

After a good run of belt busting burgers, fried chicken and some soul food, it was time to go see the little guy from the East. The call for the day was none other than Pho Vietnam.  This is a late post and many apologies to go with it. We are in the Santa season, so things are a little unusual. I never had Pho until a couple of years ago and before that I was always a little cautious about ordering it mostly due to my lack of knowledge for the cuisine. 
Pho Vietnam has been on the Monday list for a while, and in my opinion they do a fantastic job. The MLC (Monday Lunch Club) is usually adventurous with food however,  I do recall on one particular Monday when the incredible daring AJ decided to crazy order off the norm and ended up with a rather challenging plate, (number unknown). It was not something the normal person could understand or identify, and possibly could have been a challenge for Andrew Zimmern whom we all know will eat just about anything.
Yours truly did not actually attend this Monday lunch Club; however, I’ve been to Pho Vietnam many times so I was definitely there in spirit.  I was told that ordering was not a huge challenge as previously described. AJ has become a good coach on what not to order. He would direct you to just order #1. The talk for the day was largely concentrated around the exciting news about ARTjamN. Yes ARTjamN is moving from Midtown to the South Main. Maria, who owns and operates ARTjamN was sharing the news while attending Monday Lunch Club. This is really great for downtown and especially for South Main.  Maria describes ARTjamN as “Paintertainment”. That says a lot about what she does, but everyone should know that Maria is an exciting and talented artist. She has calming patience with those of us that can’t put colors on canvas and she has the gifted ability to teach and share her knowledge during these fun painting and/or corporate team building events. Maria is also very talented at pet portraits and does a really cool twist on other custom art work. Check her out at; you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.

Talking about pleasant, everything at Pho is abundantly fresh. One of the cool things about sitting at a larger table at Pho is the ‘Lazy Susan”. I’m a sucker for these rotating mechanisms of sharing convenience. I must admit that sometimes it brings the kid out in me and I can’t help but turn it, and turn it, and turn it, just because I can. Pho Vietnam does a fantastic job on the tasty broth for the Pho soups.  I would suspect that’s a requirement and a secret for really good Pho. The green herbs and fresh ingredients they bring to your table allow you to get as creative and fresh with your bowl and  also having the freedom to spice it up as high as you want. Pho might not be a bad idea to order after a crazy weekend. Depending on how you’re feeling you just might want to sweat things out.  Pho Vietnam appears to be family run, and you can see different generations all pitching in to make your dining a pleasant experience. The food portions are generous, so you don’t have to worry about leaving hungry. Thumbs up for Pho Vietnam.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boom it’s Bleu

Boom! That’s how quick it was to call the  lunch spot on Monday. AJ has become very punctual on the bell call for Monday’s. We never really have to worry about where to eat or how to decide. The no-rule, rule is, the first person to answer the text with a suggestion, has the lunch call, or as we refer to it as “the spot” for the day. Today a clever call from Robo would take us to Bleu.  I’ve never been there for lunch and definitely was curious about Bleu.  Bleu sits in the Westin Hotel right across from the FedEx Forum. They have an outdoor patio with some cool looking furniture and an elegant dining room.  It’s a nice place with a modern feel to it. The staff is friendly and helpful from the second you walk in. Now this is one of the cool things about lunch at Bleu. They have a b.y.o (build your own sandwich) and a b.y.o (build your own pasta) menu card. You can create your own complex food fantasy or just keep it simple. With this MLC (Monday Lunch Club) simple is not usually going to get it.
We have some foodies and/or really good cooks in the house so any chance we can blow it up, we blow it up. We have one of the original MLC members, Robo who is in the food industry and recognizes everyone and everything in a good way.  This is a nice asset since this group is always treading on a fine line. We usually are on the edge of falling off the deep end. The eyes of responsibility can fall upon us and we can always use some caution to who might be sitting near our table. Bleu sits across from the Forum and to no surprise the Cleveland Cavaliers were in town to challenge our home team, #1 in the NBA, Memphis Grizzlies. Yes we did see some players walking around the lobby. An interesting side note from the management at Blue is that they really are trying to cater to the local crowd as well as the hotel clientele.  Parking is no excuse at Bleu since they have free valet parking if you dine or drink on site. 

I was extremely impressed with blue. We started with some Mac and Cheese and Crab cakes. The Mac and Cheese is creamy and presented in a small cast iron skillet.   I am extremely picky about crab cakes, and these were just ok. I would say they were not the best I ever had, but I would order them again.  Pete was the only one at the table that had an ounce of responsibility about non-artery clogging food sense, so he went for the 5 step b.y.o pasta masterpiece creation and it looked incredible. He had all sorts of goodies in it and it was elegantly topped with some great looking shrimp. That old eat with your eyes first really held true. The other 3 of us misfits went for the cardiac clogging Lipitor versions of the b.y.o sandwiches on the menu. AJ and Robo ordered their Michael Angelo creations and AJ even topped his with a fried egg.    For me, it was an amazing creation. In  chronological order  as listed on the  b.y.o. steps  it went like this;  1) Angus beef  2) Medium rare  3)grilled cheese  4) no sauce  5) Jarlsburg Swiss  6) Roasted Red Peppers  7) Applewood Smoked Bacon and finally  8) Hand-cut Fries. This was truly an incredible site all piled between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

 Ouch!  It was nice to order my beef med/rare (favoring the rare side of the scale) and having my sandwich served just as I wished. I’d say they hit the spot. To think about a comment made at the table, we really should be making commercials for Cardiologist in Memphis or at least   sponsors for future Lipitor clientele.  Bleu is doing a fantastic job. Really nice lunch and big thumbs up.

The view from our table

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to School

Monday morning I was running around the house trying to get some things done when I heard my phone text signal sound go off. Oh yeah, that was AJ and the Lunch Club Bell. He informed me that his family was in town and wanted to take them to this really cool place called the Lunchbox Eats. Funny he said that because that is exactly what was on my mind. The Lunchbox Eats has been a Monday Lunch Club regular spot for a while. This place is like stepping back in time. It reminds you of a cross between a fun study hall or one of your schools class rooms only this room is equipped with some really talented chefs and good food.  The Lunchbox even has old board games you can play at your table. It’s a small place located just about half a block south of the FedEx Forum on 4th street.
  They have this wonderful little courtyard patio out in front with a few tables.  Once you walk into the Lunchbox Eats the transformation begins to take place. There is a small school desk at the very front entrance where you walk in, and then you look around and realize the cool decor. It’s rustic, vintage, and artistic with a twist on the old school environment. The walls have some classic exposed brick and some cool art work hanging on the walls. Yes Elvis is in the house!  Some cool Elvis artwork hangs in the back corner along with some book shelves that hold old classic encyclopedias and all types of books. This really adds to the overall look.
Cool decor is a great start, but there are still important check marks for a good grade at a restaurant. The service started with smiles, and many “how may I helps”.  We sat down at a long center table since a good size group was in order for this day. We had the wonderful honor of having Valerie’s (AJ’s unbelievable better half) family join us. These fun and friendly folks are from Texas and I knew they were about to embark on an adventure soon after we settled down. The topic for the day was football. We had some Baylor Alumni in the house mixed with some of us other school losers, which we don’t really want to begin to talk about.  Valerie and family just got into Memphis from the Baylor game and needless to say they were all smiles for good reasons. Baylor sports for anyone in Valerie’s family is serious business. Families that enjoy sports and food commonalities are families  that will always enjoy each other’s company during good times and bad. Shortly after the football hails and cries the food schooling began with the menu. After looking at the menu you then fill out the report card style piece of paper and start checking what you want.  
This is where you completely leave any school environment that you may have known and the Lunchbox begins to take you to school on a culinary explosion of creative goodness. Since I have been going there I have strictly been on the Broken Rib Bones sandwich kick. You could say I am in a Broken Rib Bones sandwich detention because I haven’t been able to get off of it and order something else.  They describe this sandwich on the menu as follows, “Red Wine Braised Short Ribs of Beef, smothered with Gravy, Onions, Carrots and Celery between Crispy Grilled Cheese”. This sandwich is tender, buttery cheesy and extremely delicious. What they don’t tell you on the menu is that everything is made in-house including the bread. I also had the Veggie Slaw and again, as described on the menu, “a combination of julienne Jicama, Mustard & Collard Greens, Red Pepper, Cabbage, and Carrots”.  This is really a nice tangy taste with a crunchy texture all blended to create a fantastic slaw.  Normally all sandwiches come with a slice of incredible pickles, however, I like them so much I just simply ordered an entire side of pickles. They are very tasty with a hint of clove or allspice which is very complimentary. 

 Everyone at the table had impressive sandwiches, and I kept hearing how good the Mac and Cheese was. The names on the menu are all school related in theme and each and every item has a really great description of what you might expect.  What isn't spelled on the menu are the impressive portions that are all wowing and eye opening with jaw dropping facial expressions. Everything at The Lunchbox Eats comes out on a really cool old school cafeteria tray. I have no idea where they get these trays from, but they really add to the overall presentation and are compliment to its unique environment. The Lunchbox Eats is a great little jewel for Memphis. I also understand that the Lunchbox is also beginning to run specials for the Memphis Grizzlies games and that would explain the cool old school type smoker out in front. You get a real tailgate feeling. I did a little research on The Lunchbox Eats and thanks to the site I found out that the owners name is Kala Brewe. Kala has some impressive credentials which includes attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, NC.

    We really need to do a better job of introducing ourselves after we eat in order to meet and thank the owners of some of these local eateries. The  Lunchbox Eats is on the favorites list, and they deserve a big fat thumbs up.

Texans in Memphis with MLC

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Great Chicken  Debate
Less than one week back  into the Memphis groove and bam the lunch text started to light up the phone. We had the  good fortune of having our good bud Justin buzz in for the messaging since the markets were closed for a deserving Veterans Day. As quick as the messages went out the call was made. The spot for the day  would be “Uncle Lou’s” home of Sweet Spicy Love Sauce.  Uncle Lou’s and Gus’s fried chicken have been at the helm of our discussions and debates for a good while. Who has the best fried chicken? It’s a hard call, and to be honest I don’t think there is a fair way to compare. They are so different in texture, flavor and taste.  You can read all about Gus’s on the post below. Uncle Lou’s, like Gus's, has super nice friendly staff. Their family usually always is around and they really make you feel welcome. 
At Lou’s you simply place orders at the counter, and they are happy to bring your food out to you.  I ordered the three piece chicken with spicy hot Love Sauce. It’s really not that hot, and it tastes exactly like the distinguishing name.  This sauce is really great, a bit sweet and tangy with a nice hint of spice.  You definitely  leave the place wanting more sauce. Next time I  might just buy an extra bottle to pour over my chicken and sides. The chicken breast that I had was amazingly juicy to the point I could actually see the moisture coming out  after biting into it.  This is so hard to find with restaurant chicken these days, and this chicken did not fall short on flavor and tenderness.

The wings certainly had their big boy pants on for good flavor.  Uncle Lou’s has some interesting flavorful side dishes such as corn nuggets, really  good  buttery biscuits and corruption carrots just to mention a few. Now this is where Uncle Lou’s takes things in a different direction.One of our original MLB (Monday Lunch Club) members Robo, who happens to also write an entertaining and fun blog, decided that he was going all in and ordered  the Monster Cheese Burger. This thing is anything but small. There it was sitting on a plate with stacks of beef and melted cheese between two buns  loaded with all the regular extras. This majesty of burger health had to have been 4 plus inches high. The table report on the Monster from Robo  was "this is a heart stopping pile of  juicy goodness”. If you’re going take the plunge and enjoy a burger that stacks up, you might as well do it right and there should be no holding back. The fact that Robo scheduled a doctor’s appointment later that day caused us all to become experts on how to justify the enjoyment.  I understand that Robo got a good ass chewing later that day from his nurse, but hopefully he showed her the picture of this majesty and was able to gain some compassion.

After all, this style of food is good for the soul which in my humble opinion is as important as food for health. Uncle Lou’s in no stranger to celebrity status after all they made the Food Network show DDD.  Lou’s is outside our normal downtown comfort zone, but I would say it was well worth the trip. After it was all said and done, we had a great crowd, good food and fun stories to share. I don’t think we resolved the Great Fried Chicken Debate, but we all agreed on the fantastic strengths that Gus’s and Lou’s each contributed to the world of fried chicken establishments. I believe an organized showdown should be in the makings.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Big Easy
The Big Easy, how do I even begin to talk about The Monday lunch club this past week? First of all I have to tell you that two of the Memphis delegation of lunch clubbers  met up with the Philadelphia  delegation  in Memphis and jumped  on  "The City Of New Orleans” train to head down to NOLA  for a weekend of fun and hopefully staggering to the Monday night football game, Eagles vs. Saints. A culinary adventure was in order since one of our very good friends Ernie who is the father of my God-daughter lives in NOLA.  Ernie is almost finished with his studies in the field of Culinary Arts and yes he is still an active a member on PorkoSaurus World Championship BBQ cooking team. You’ll read about our BBQ team now and then, but for now we’ll concentrate on the NOLA lunch club.  
As it’s our tradition to meet somewhere for lunch on Mondays, we kept this going with Smoothie, AJ and myself. The Monday  lunch spot winner was Parkway Bakery & Tavern for their famous Po-Boys. This place comes with several recommendations from locals and the most important for us came from Ernie.   Smoothie kept saying all weekend that he has never really had great food in NOLA, just ok food. This all changed the minute we rolled into NOLA. Since we arrived the Saturday before, Ernie took us on a culinary tour of affordable and fantastic places. Lunch on Monday did not fall short. It was a short cab ride from where we were staying and that was the beginning of an adventure for this day. You know you’re in for a good story when the cab driver is holding an Italian cigar in one hand and a roll of money in the other.  He was an Italian guy that started out saying he missed the prom and went the pen. We were laughing so hard about the stories he was telling us. It was as if we stepped into a gangsters cab, and any minute a Tommy gun was going to come out from under the seat. The gangster, mob, tour guide, bookie looking, rapper cab driver, is known to the general public simply as  Rocco.  To us at the time he was one of the funniest people we met. He even had a hip hop side to him with a rather talented ability to Rap.  This guy had a story for everything, and didn’t think twice about driving the wrong way on a one way street to get us to the lunch spot. During our conversation, turns out that he knew one of our buddies that lived in NOLA and had to leave  due to Katrina. Small world we live in, when you can get into a cab. , and a guy by the name of Rocco knows someone you do and where they went to school.  We arrived at Parkway Bakery & Tavern to find a very efficient line around the back where we could walk up to a window and place an order.  
Roast beef and shrimp

Shrimp Po-boy
 AJ and Smoothie got the roast beef with gravy topped with fried shrimp, and I had the straight up shrimp. Let me set the record straight, these sandwiches are really good. The bread in New Orleans is different from a loaf in Philly or NY.  I always say that bread is one of the most important ingredients for a good sandwich. These Po-Boys are simple and Parkway is not shy on stacking the goodness. The large shrimp was fried to perfection with a golden brown color that had a slight hint of spice. The roast beef and gravy topped with  the same shrimp  I had looked fantastic.  We all slammed down the food with very little conversation.  
No talk means good food. All Po-Boys come standard  “loaded” which means it has  shredded lettuce, tomatoes and mayo along with whatever you order. We all agreed we would hold the mayo next time for different reasons. For me it was because they have an amazing side bar with all kinds of great ready-made cups of sauces like cocktail sauce, jalapeno horseradish down to a tasty Remoulade sauce.   AJ and Smoothie could do without the mayo on hot beef and gravy which I also agree with.   As in any respectable joint in NOLA they also have good cold beer so that just simply makes things even better.  As the lunch ended,  we caught  a rather uneventful ride back to the French Quarter so the adventure could continue.  That was all the lunch club stuff, but we have so many more food stories about this past weekend we need to share some more experiences.

One night Ernie drug us down to Frenchman’s Street where we enjoyed some good Jazz and had dinner at a place called Aldofo’s.   They serve a really great sauce they call Ocean sauce. Basically it’s everything fresh from the sea and bayou mixed in a cream sauce with spice, topped over any main dish you like such as veal or any of the several fresh fish selections.  Aldofo’s is a tiny little place on the second floor which only has access through a tiny little bar called The Apple Barrel.  This added to the uniqueness of this little jewel. No reservation, limited seating cash only,  and waiting is expected can only equal good in the food world.  Aldofo’s was really delicious and made it on the repeat list for all of us.

 Another day we hit a hamburger joint, Port of Call. The beef burgers are large and full of good flavor. Everything in this joint is big including the baked potato that comes with every burger order.All this is perfect after a heavy night of drinking.There usually is a wait so plan ahead.

Sunday we went to Manning’s, and we were lucky enough to have the End Zone Recliners for the Sunday night football game. The food was over the top. Manning’s got it right.  Finally, there is a place that serves great food in a sports bar.  Most sports bars are lacking in getting everything right. You either get good food and fight to see and hear a TV, or you have a good TV and not so great food. Manning’s took care of not missing the goal.   

You can get your standard bar grub or you can let the chef take you to another level that will set the mark for future pub grub.We had Duck wings which had a nice crunchy sweat batter with tender juicy bites of wonderful and a fantastic presentation.
The tacos we had were some of the best I ever ate. Even Ernie was impressed with the tacos, and he’s the Tex-Mex in the group.  Let me tell you about the Nachos, they will go down in the all-time top 10 nacho dishes ever. We had so much good food the only bad thing is I wish we would have taken more pictures. I guess now we have a reason to go back.  If I lived in NOLA, I would watch every game possible at Manning’s, and for all my favorite big games I would reserve the End Zone Recliners.  When you’re in these leather reclining seats you never have to get up. All you do is enjoy while viewing the mega screen.  At Manning’s, attention to detail is very evident. Manning’s is all about "Laissez les bons temps rouler".
 We Had a final lunch at t place called Butcher. This place is around the corner from the famous Cochon restaurant and is actually owned and operated by the same team.  You get a nice feeling when you walk in and you fresh meats and sausage in the  window case.  Several meats are curing in a temperature controlled cooler.  Everything on the menu is made in house including dry aged and cured meats. They have local purveyors bring in what they can’t produce such as dairy. AJ had the mac and cheese. It came all nice and cheesy with chunks of Pancetta mixed in it.  Ernie talked us into the Duck Pastrami Sliders for starters. I can stop living now if need be they were that good. Little triangles of crunchy toasted, buttery bread with a very tasty savory duck pastrami combined with a nice melted cheese.   We all had the regular Beef Pastrami sandwich as the main event, and they were over the top. Ernie keep telling us the culinary bar was getting raised each step and this experience did not fall short.  The quality of food at the Butcher is far above what we all expected. You really feel the passion, love and respect for food the second you walk in the door. Seating is limited so just try to be patient because this place is no secret.